levitt & dubner


'Listerine, for instance, was invented in the nineteenth century as a powerful surgical antiseptic. It was later sold, in distilled form, as a floor cleaner and a cure for gonorrhea. But it wasn't a runaway success until the 1920s, when it was pitched as a solution for “chronic halitosis” – a then obscure medical term for bad breath. Listerine's new ads featured forlorn your women and men, eager for marriage but turned off by their mate's rotten breath. “Can I be happy with him in spite of that ?” one maiden asked herself. Until that time, bad breath was not conventionally considered such a catastrophe. But Listerine changed that. As the advertising scholar James B. Twitchell writes, “Listerine did not make mouthwash as much as it made halitosis.” In just seven years, the company's revenue's rose from $115,000 to more than £8 million.'
freakonomics | listerine | mouthwash

‘Glaucon's story posed a moral question: could any man resist the temptation of evil if he knew acts could not be witnessed? Glaucon seemed to think the answer was no. But Paul Feldman sides with Socrates and Adam Smith – for he knows the answer, at least 87 percent of the time, is yes.'
freakonomics | society | volition


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